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Outgoing email alleged to be "SPAM": ominous and serious privacy implications

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MrCurious2
Nickel Contributor
Nickel Contributor
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎06-07-2009

Outgoing email alleged to be "SPAM": ominous and serious privacy implications

Message 1 of 7
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I attempted to send a link to a friend, and Verizon's software prevented me from sending the message, with a message saying "....the mail server responded 5.7.1...determined to be spam."

  

By using the old standby workaround--guile, trickery and deceit--I was able to convey the info to my intended recipient.

  

But as I think about it, it's clear that Verizon must be scanning *every* email a customer sends!  What other method could Verizon be using to determine that a messge is objectionable, other than scanning the message?  And if Verizon is doing that, what is it doing with that information?  Is it reporting the info to someone, like CIA or NSA?

 

Now I'm wondering:  does Verizon maintain a list of "bad" addresses?

  

The fact that Verizon blocked this URL is additional support for something I noticed long ago:  the folks at Verizon are not too bright. First of all, the target URL contains innocuous, unoffensive information  But even more significant, how could I be attempting to spam someone if I'm sending my message to ONE individual--and at that, an individual who;s a friend, and to whom I've sent hundreds of messages?

 

(Nor was it easy to find this forum!  But I can see why Verizon would want to keep customers from complaining, when other customers could see that info.)

 

These Verizon folks are so dumb (this is not the first problem I've had with Verizon) I'm gonna start looking around for  an ISP that's not a "legacy" company, as Verizon is.  

6 REPLIES 6
i_like_turtles
Bronze Contributor II
Bronze Contributor II
Posts: 100
Registered: ‎06-17-2009

Re: Outgoing email alleged to be "SPAM": ominous and serious privacy implications

Message 2 of 7
(7,770 Views)

do you have any idea how many emails are sent daily?

 

It would be INCREDABLY impracticle for verizon to read every single email.

 

The only reason it was marked as spam is because SOMETHIGN in the email tripped off the spam alert.

 

It is a very automated system, your privacy is not being violated.

 

the system probably uses keywords not on the material in the links, but probably the actual link itself tripped it.

 

anyways, the CIA, FBI and pretty much all other gov agencies need to do A LOT to get access to emails ... and verizon can always just say " No "


they tried to get search results from google ........ SEARCH RESULTS !! not even emails, and they just said "No" and didnt get squat.

 

remove the tinfoil hat... but keep the tinfoil undershirt on because noone can be 100 % sure

... and by the way, i like turtles
MrCurious2
Nickel Contributor
Nickel Contributor
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎06-07-2009

Re: Outgoing email alleged to be "SPAM": ominous and serious privacy implications

Message 3 of 7
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Turtles:

  

Yes, I'm aware that gazillions of emails are sent daily.  It's also clear that Verizon has software (not humans) that *does* analyze messages you send--I've had the experience a few times now of trying to send innocuous, clearly non-spam messages that Verizon refused to send.

 

I got around it by finding the part of the message (as I recall, always a URL) that Verizon did not like and altering it in one way or another.

 

And the dangers are *real*, not imaginary, as you believe.  Clearly, humans have to be involved, and both humans and machines must cope with an extremely large numbero f emails, and "suspects".  We know for a certainty that the . phone companies have coopoerated with CIA and NSA, even without those agencies having to present warrants for their snooping.  And it's equally clear that it's done by computer.  No doubt NSA takes "suspicious" or otherwise flagged messages and looks at, for example, the sender and recipient, and adds those names to a database. 

  

I would guess that the messages sit in the database until there is a sufficient level of activity to warrant raising an alarm, e.g. a sufficient number of messages to some individual on a watch list.  Then---if I were managing a NSA or CIA effort that examined emails--I would have the software kick out a list of "names to be followed up on", with priorities attached.

 

I personally am not worried, because anyone reading my messages will go bonkers with boredom in a short period of time.  But clearly the potential exists.  And if you doubt me, then clearly you are not aware of recent US history, e.g. various efforts the Army, FBI, and other agencies mounted decades ago (even opening snailmail!)in which innocent individuals had their privacy seriously invaded, illegally.  I would be happy to give you more details if you wish--details that are a matter of public record. 

mattheww
Silver Contributor V
Silver Contributor V
Posts: 668
Registered: ‎10-26-2008

Re: Outgoing email alleged to be "SPAM": ominous and serious privacy implications

Message 4 of 7
(7,737 Views)

1). All email that is sent via Verizon SMTP servers is scanned by software which does in fact occaisonally make a mistake. In some cases there is no obvious reason (such as a URL), or any inappropriate language. I spent several weeks trying to get on email sent, that Verizon Tech acknowleged was not SPAM. I had to escalate the problem to the Executive Escalation team in NYC to get it resolved.

 

2). Mail sent via the Verizon Web interface (log into www.verizon.net) IS NOT SCANNED.So there is a work around for most users.

MrCurious2
Nickel Contributor
Nickel Contributor
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎06-07-2009

Re: Outgoing email alleged to be "SPAM": ominous and serious privacy implications

Message 5 of 7
(7,719 Views)

I think there are two really fascinating aspects of this situation.

 

One is, "why does Verizon block a message even if there is only one recipient?"  Who "spams" by sending an email to one person only?

  

The second, perhaps even more fascinating than the first, is, "It is impossible that Verizon has been unaware of this situation until now. Others have complained.  So how come Verizon has done nothing to change this situation?"

 

To me, that speaks volumes about Verizon.

MrCurious2
Nickel Contributor
Nickel Contributor
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎06-07-2009

Verizon's computers scan every single message you send!

Message 6 of 7
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I encountered one of those (spurious) messages saying  "Verizon has determined that this message is spam...", so I decided to do a little research.

  

I took a fairly lengthy text file and pasted the offending URL on the end of this file.  As I had suspected,the sending of the message progressed normally, until the progress bar indicated that the message had been 98% sent.  THEN the message about spam popped up.

  

Some implications of this:

  

1.  Clearly, messages could be sent far faster, with far less drain on Verizon's computers, if Verizon did NOT scan every message.

  

2.  Why is Verizon continuing to do this?  Is Verizon's management really so dumb that it has not figured out that this is a waste of resources, and that a message sent to ONE individual is probably  not spam?

 

I believe that Verizon is one of those companies that chose to cooperate with the Bush Gang in its program of warrantless eavesdropping, a few years ago.

  

I now wonder:  what *else*  might the Gummint be looking for besides "suspicious communications" between alleged terrorists?

mattheww
Silver Contributor V
Silver Contributor V
Posts: 668
Registered: ‎10-26-2008

Re: Verizon's computers scan every single message you send!

Message 7 of 7
(7,662 Views)

It is counter intuitive, but a lot of SPAM these days is sent by a single computer, sending a single message. The Computer has a virus or worm, and can be commanded to send the message from a central point.

 

This approach makes SPAM much more difficult to stop since instead of coming from one computer, it is sent one message a time from thousands of computers on many different networks, via many different SMTP servers.

 

About the only way to stop it is to try to detect. Verizon does a reasonably good job, but not a perfect one. I spent several weeks trying to send one message VZ employees acknowledged was not SPAM. Their SPAM detector has a low false positive rate, but that rate is definitely NOT ZERO.

 

I have also found that often I could not message to 'spoof@ebay/paypal' to report phishing messages because they were detected as SPAM.

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